See Our Live Penguin Cam!
Check out Edinburgh Zoo's penguins with our LIVE Penguin Cam.
Plan Your Visit
Find out how to make the most of your trip and book tickets here.
Become a Member
Our membership package comes with lots of benefits including a year's unlimited free entry to both our parks!
You can join by post, phone or even today on the website.
|Common Name:||Gelada baboon||Family:||Cercoitthecidae|
|Latin Name:||Theropithecus gelada||Diet:||Herbivore|
|Native To:||Africa||Social Unit:||Group|
|IUCN Red List Status:||Vulnerable|
Meet McQueen - a little Gelada Baboon who recently carried off a great escape!
On a June afternoon our young gelada baboons were having a great time playing in their enclosure, when one climbed up and slipped through the electric fence around the perimeter of the enclosure. It’s virtually unheard of for a baby to be brave enough to do this, normally they stick close to mum, and he’s only been able to as he’s so small.
He entertained surprised visitors by walking along the outside of the enclosure, sitting on the viewing hut and then dropping back into the enclosure. He was out for about 10 minutes and posed no danger to visitors – he’s just a baby and Gelada Baboons are pretty placid.
As he’s such a brave little fella, keepers are now moving the electric fence closer to the enclosure wall. The little one was yet to get a name, so we’ve decided McQueen would be appropriate for this cheeky little monkey!
Geladas at Edinburgh Zoo
Edinburgh Zoo’s gelada group arrived from a German collection in December 2007 and was made up of related females and their offspring. Since then, we have successfully introduced an unrelated adult male, Malachi, into the group. The group had four births in 2009 and in spring of 2010, two more.
A male gelada baboon at Edinburgh Zoo. Photo by
Our geladas are extremely active and use their huge, grassy paddock to the full. You may see the adults spending time grooming each other, which helps to strengthen the bond between them as a group, as well as keeping their hair in good condition. The juveniles are usually tearing around the enclosure or climbing the trees and generally having fun!
Gelada baboon photo by
Gelada numbers are declining in their natural habitat and are directly affected by global warming. The grasslands that they rely on for food are disappearing, and bushes and shrubs are taking their place. As the threat of global warming continues to increase, so does the need to protect this beautiful species from further decline and their natural environment from disappearing forever.
Gelada baboon photo by
Where can it be found at Edinburgh Zoo
In the upper part of the park, between the Asiatic lion enclosure and the raven enclosure.
Geladas in the wild
Geladas (Theropithecus gelada) are found in the Ethiopian highlands, at altitudes of between 8,000 and 14,000 feet. They are the only primate species whose primary food source is grass - they have short, powerful fingers to help them dig down for the juicy, nutritious roots.
Geladas are “shuffle-feeders” who rarely stand up when grazing, instead preferring to continuously pluck grass blades whilst shuffling from place to place on their bottoms!
Because of this, unlike other baboon females whose bottoms swell up to indicate to the males that they are ready to mate, Gelada females have distinctive, pink hourglass shaped skin patches on the chest that visibly change in appearance throughout their oestrus cycle. This allows males to tell if the females are ready to be mated, even when they are sitting down grazing! As well as deepening in colour, blister-like “vesicles” appear on the chest (and groin area) which can clearly be seen from a distance. All females of reproductive age in a group tend to have vesicles appearing simultaneously, unless they are pregnant. Gestation is usually around six months in length and although single infants are most common, twins have been seen on occasion.
Geladas use a complex mix of facial expression and vocalisations to communicate with others in the group. These can be very subtle or extremely obvious! Look out for them “mouth chattering” as a greeting to one another or flashing their pale eye-lids as a sign of annoyance.
Adopt a gelada baboon
A great way to support RZSS – buy it for yourself or as a gift for the animal lover in your life!
Breeding programme category: EEP
IUCN Red List category: Vulnerable
View our other animal profiles: